Every culture and every faith tradition has some way of acknowledging and/or celebrating those who have been a part of their lives and have died.
These items, these names, our memories, they serve as a bridge in our lives…a bridge between this life and life hereafter.
These 11 candles…the memories of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburg who were killed this week….even though we may not have known them personally, because our world has become infinitely small, they are now known to us and a part of the fabric of our lives.
These pictures, these symbols, these names, they are points of connection….a connection that reaches beyond the space/time continuum as well know it….across the thin place between here and eternity.
There is a prayer which we use at the beginning of the vigil of Christian burial that goes like this:
“My brothers and sisters, we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us together throughout our lives does not unravel with death. Confident that God always remembers the good that we have done and forgives all our sins, let us pray asking God to gather our loved one into his embrace.”
On the eve of All Saints, Rev. Colleen made mention of a theologian who said….”death merely changes how our relationship is with the one who has died, it does not wipe it out.”
And like the introduction of the opening prayer says….all the ties of friendship and affection….they are all a part of our fabric.
What a glorious and blest reality it is to be able to surround each other with our fabric and to share the amazing stories and memories that make up the tapestry of our lives.
I know that growing up I somewhat feared death and dying. Over the years that has changed for me. I don’t want to die, and I will miss all of you and all those I love when the angel of death comes to visit, but I take great comfort in the line from John’s Gospel today….Everything that God has given me will come to me and I will not reject anyone who comes to me…(Jn 6:37)
I am not going to pretend to even understand what eternal life looks like or to understand the mystery of heaven. None of us know….some have touched those in near death experiences, and always it is a vision of peace, light, joy. In that I place my hope and in the assurances of our Scriptures that say “eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love.”
Tonight given the tragedy of injustice that invaded the lives of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburg and given the fact that several of the spouses of our members live the Jewish faith, I have invited them to close the homily today with the Mourners Kaddish Prayer
Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world
which (GOD) has created according to (GOD’S) will.
May (The Holy One) establish (the kingdom) in your lifetime and during your days,
and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon;
and say, Amen.
May (GOD’S) great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored,
adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be (GOD) ,
beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that
are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
Oh (GOD) who creates peace in the celestial heights,
may you create peace for us and for all Israel;
and say, Amen.